VJMP Reads: The Interregnum: Rethinking New Zealand VI

This reading carries on from here.

The sixth essay in The Interregnum is ‘Radical Kaupapa Maori Politics’ by Carrie Stoddart-Smith. Turning to maoridictionary.co.nz I discover that kaupapa means, in this context, something like ‘agenda’ (indeed, within the first page it has been defined as “something like first principles”), but the essay itself explores the various definitions of ‘Kaupapa Maori’.

At the core of this essay is the question that Maori have been asking themselves for 200 years. To what extent to we cling to the old ways, and to what extent to we abandon them for the sake of adaptation to a world that is different to what it was when the old days arose?

Many mainstream readers, conditioned to mainstream journalism, will find the tone of this essay jarring, as it is heavy on the kind of guilt-based sermon-style rhetoric that so many have learned to manipulate otherwise well-meaning audiences with.

It’s also full of the unnecessary race-baiting and shit-stirring that has become associated with the American style of race rhetoric, such as when Stoddart-Smith justifies the exclusion of non-Maori with “empowering Maori voices that continue to be silenced by the noise of history, and by the protestations of white New Zealand that insist on shouting us down and shutting us out.”

Unfortunately this dishonest, deliberately aggravating style of rhetoric is a throwback to the Cultural Marxism espoused in the introductory essay. Only “white New Zealand” is the enemy; the fact that Asian and Pacific Islander New Zealanders think much less of Maoris than white people do, not having had two centuries of living together, is ignored on account of not fitting the narrative (the fact that Asians and Pacific Islanders are harder to guilt trip may also be a factor).

It’s a shame that a confrontational and antagonistic stylistic approach was taken, because there’s plenty of philosophical value in this essay. In particular, Stoddart-Smith draws multiple parallels between kaupapa Maori and the anarchist philosophy of mutualism.

After all, pre-European contact Maori did not have a central government, and as a consequence they adapted to learn patterns of mutual support that helped them and their neighbours to survive. In some cases the agreements over which tribe had the rights to access what were very sophisticated and complicated, but the important thing was that they were mutually consensual, in contrast to today’s arrangement where representatives of the Queen enforce the law whether people like it or not.

If this side of things had been emphasised, this could have been a good essay. Unfortunately it’s full of common separatist canards like “colonialism embedded patriarchy in tikanga Maori” and the revisionist attempt to ignore He iwi tahi tatou, as if the historical nature of interactions between Maori and British settlers had been entirely involuntary on the part of the Maori, rather than mutually beneficial.

One feels that a sophisticated approach to redressing the historical wrongs done to the Maori people, and this essay falls a long way short of that. It is, however, a good example of Marxist agitprop.

The Closer the Election Gets, the More Degraded Political Discourse Becomes

We’re fortunate that no campaigning is allowed on Election Day – if there was, it would just be the candidates throwing feces at each other

There’s a psychological heuristic about the effectiveness of logical arguments compared to emotional ones. In essence, rational arguments weigh more heavily in the long term, often producing permanent changes, but emotional arguments weigh more heavily in the short term, often producing immediate action. This simple rule explains why the quality of political discourse has degraded so sharply in recent weeks, and why it will degrade further in the next two.

This human tendency was demonstrated with a study that examined tooth brushing habits. Two groups listened to two different lectures from dental health professionals. The first lecture used calm, reasonable, logical arguments to explain why people should brush their teeth, the second used fire and brimstone and tried to scare the listeners into doing so.

Although people who heard the first lecture only made a small increase in how regularly they brushed their teeth, the change in behaviour lasted for a long time. This was in stark contrast to the emotional lecture. People who heard this one made a sharp increase in tooth-brushing behaviour immediately after the lecture but, over the long term, this then fell away to much lower levels than the people who had heard the logical arguments in the first lecture.

Our political class and their advisers, highly sophisticated in the art of psychological persuasion, know all of this and are using this knowledge against the plebs right now. The rule they are operating by is: the closer we get to the day of the election, the less effective logical arguments become, and the more effective emotional arguments become.

One year out from an election, there’s no real reason to get emotional. The voters themselves have not yet been whipped into hysteria by the mainstream media, and so any politician that noticeably becomes emotional will look unstable and lose support.

That far out, it’s much better to focus on calm, logical arguments that a potential voter can ruminate over at their leisure before making a solid commitment to a party on the basis of reason. This is because, as with the toothbrush study, this influence will be minor but permanent.

The day before an election, by contrast, is not the time for calm and logical arguments. It doesn’t make psychological sense to aim for a moderate but long-term gain when the election is the next day and the preferences of voters in one year’s time doesn’t count for shit. At this point, it only makes sense to appeal to the heart (and almost always to fear), in the hope that this wave of raw emotion will not have subsided by the next day.

Right now, two weeks out from Election Day, fewer logical arguments are being made. “Let’s Do This!” is not a logical argument, and that is why we have seen expressions of it much more often over the past week. Neither is whipping up fears about being taxed into the poorhouse.

Here the political discourse can already be seen to have degraded, but things will only get worse over the next two weeks as the miserable calculus of persuasion shifts the balance ever-further towards whipping up hysteria and fear.

In two weeks’ time, the discourse will have degraded so far that National supporters will simply be yelling “COMMUNISM!!!”, Labour supporters will be screaming “SOLD DOWN THE RIVER!!!”, New Zealand First supporters will be bellowing “NEOLIBERALISM!!!” and Greens supporters will be shrieking “POO IN THE WATER!!!”

And it will take us three years to get over the shame of how low we all stooped before we can do it again.

VJMP Reads: Anders Breivik’s Manifesto IX

This reading carries on from here.

In this section (c. pages 659-775), Breivik talks about strategies for strengthening the European right in the face of what he sees as the Islamo-Marxist enemy. Here the emphasis is on the cultural and propaganda wars.

Perhaps the biggest irony of this entire document, considering what happened afterwards and considering the public’s perception of Breivik, is when he correctly points out that if modern, mainstream conservatives are too cowardly to discuss the important issues “then extreme conservatives will, and we eventually risk ending up with another nasty/racist form of fascism”.

Again in this section, Breivik demolishes the hypothesis that he is a neo-Nazi with his repeated support for Israel. He also emphasises the point that an intelligent and strong European conservatism is necessary to make sure that European youths are not attracted to Nazi or white nationalist movements.

Indeed, he frequently uses the epithet “Nazi” as a derogative, such as when he suggests that the rhetoric about mass Muslim immigration being good for the economy is akin to the Nazi “Big Lie” tactic. And it’s simply impossible for any genuine Nazi to write that “Europe’s first line of defence starts in Jerusalem.”

In many ways, this document was prophetic, especially when it makes predictions about the nature of future Internet rhetoric. Breivik points out that, according to the mainstream media, “everyone who is not considered ‘politically correct’ must by default be racists or Nazis…” Indeed, some have called us at VJM Publishing neo-Nazis merely for daring to read this document.

Breivik points out one contradiction at the heart of Western Christians, in that they see Muslims as fellow followers of Abraham and therefore as comrades to a large extent. Despite this, he contends that Christianity is an essential part of European culture, although he feels that Christians need to realise that they have more in common with Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists.

Ultimately, however, the rhetoric of this document is that of war: “Christians need to understand that there can be no peace or understanding with the Islamic world. They want to subdue us, pure and simple.”

Breivik makes a very interesting argument towards the non-religious. It is that Christian and Jewish cultures produce societies that have a high standard of living, in sharp contrast to Muslim cultures. Therefore, non-religious Westerners might see themselves drawn to defending or even supporting Judeo-Christian culture for no other reason than the promotion of a strong society.

Many of Breivik’s criticisms about the nature of our modern culture and its direction are devastating. Attacking the consequences of Western egalitarianism, he writes that “The cost of equality is that we throw out all truthfulness in order to seem like nice people to each other.” This is a powerful critique because a culture that drifts from the truth, for whatever reason, is doomed, even if it drifts from the truth out of a desire to make the world a nicer place.

Perhaps the most devastating lies in the idea that the West has abandoned its foundational belief in the value of reason and replaced it with raw emotions. What matters now, he writes, on issues such as mass Muslim immigration is not whether the consequences of that immigration are good or bad but that the person supporting the mass immigration feels themself to be good and righteous.

Climate Change Is The Left Wing’s War On Terror

When George W. Bush declared a “War on Terror” in the wake of 9/11, right-wing parties in every Western nation immediately won a great victory. Ever since then, they have been able to appeal to the need to fight this war on terror in order to get votes. This has given them a big advantage over the left-wing parties, but now the left wing has its own equivalent of the War on Terror: climate change.

George W. Bush and his Republican Party knew full well that there would never be an end to terror, because there will never be an end to the human nature that impels sexually frustrated young men towards political violence. The Middle East will always be violent, because it’s in their nature to be, and even if they weren’t someone else would be.

Somewhere in the world, there will always be violence and terror, and this means that the War on Terror is an endless war. It is a battle that can never be won. No matter the circumstances, right-wing parties will always be able to use the violence somewhere in the world to justify increasing military spending and cracking down on civil liberties.

This has given them a permanent advantage over the left wing – until now.

If there’s one thing that can be said for certain about Nature it is that she is ever-changing. And she always will be – for over four billion years, Nature has thrown up an ever-shifting set of environmental conditions and admonished her children to adapt or die. There is absolutely nothing we can do about this, because Nature is infinitely stronger than even our collective will.

At any given time, somewhere in the world, there will be people suffering due to the whims of Nature. Somewhere in the world there will be droughts, somewhere else there will be floods, and in other places there will be storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis.

What the left wing has recently caught on to is the fact that, insofar as we have a moral obligation to fight climate change, this obligation will never and can never be discharged.

If the political class is at all capable of persuading the people they rule to submit to further taxation in the belief that the money will be used to “fight climate change”, they will be able to do so in perpetuity, because the climate will always change.

Because it’s a law of Nature that the climate will always change, no matter what humans do or don’t do, the left wing will always be able to use climate change as a justification for increasing government reach and cracking down on civil liberties. In this regard, the left wing has a weapon that matches the power of the right wing’s War or Terror. Any time anything bad naturally happens as a result of freak weather events, the left wing will be able to use it as an excuse to turn the screws.

This is how we have ended up with politicians like Jacinda Ardern saying that climate change is the “nuclear free moment” of our generation. The Labour Party knows that it can thump the drum of climate change forever, and therefore there is greater scope for long-term gathering of political capital if they prioritise this issue rather than issues like cannabis law reform (which will be soon be solved and moved on from).

Ten years, twenty years, fifty years from now, the left wing will still be prattling on about climate change.